07/13/14 — Pharmacy marks its 50th year

View Archive

Pharmacy marks its 50th year

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on July 13, 2014 1:50 AM

Mike Raper, pharmacist at Raper Discount Drug, was only in the ninth grade when his father, Frank, now 82 years old, built the new location on Wayne Memorial Drive.

Now his father is retired, and the younger Raper runs the new store with his brother, David. The pharmacy is celebrating 50 years of business this year.

"Personal attention to customers is what sets us apart from the other chain drug stores," Raper said. "After a customer comes in a few times, we usually know them by name."

But there is one part of the business that has been in pharmacy longer than Raper Drug itself -- Agnes Vann, who turns 93 in October, has worked in pharmacy for 61 years -- 31 years at the now defunct Ash Street business, and 30 years for Raper Drug -- and still works every Monday and Friday on Wayne Memorial Drive.

"I think it's interesting," Vann said. "I still see something new every day."

But she is humble about her long service.

"I don't think I've done anything that anyone else who has ever worked for a living wouldn't have done," she said.

Raper said the pharmacy almost always fills a single prescription within 15 minutes, and that he was glad to take the business over for his father so that his father could retire and rest. Raper Drug bought out Bob Boyd's old business in 2006, and allowed him to come work for the pharmacy and continue his career.

Raper Drug offers free delivery throughout the city, but not outside of it.

"If someone lives out in Rosewood, we're going to be hard pressed to add that to our route and be able to deliver it to them in a timely fashion," Raper said.

It isn't all easy living in the pharmacy business. For years now, Raper said, co-pay and the cost of generic drugs have been rising, making it hard for the family pharmacy to compete with chain stores. Their prescription business wasn't initially hurt by chain stores until new legislation took effect that created preferred networks that only included chain stores.

That hurt their "out front" business, which consists of things like cosmetics, magazines and the like.

"Those places just carry so much volume of things that aren't prescription drugs," Raper said. "That's hard to compete with."

So the pharmacy does as it always has -- focuses on medicinal needs and offers personable service.